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Will Your Decisiveness Kill Your C-Suite Promotion?

I was on a confidential call recently with a Finance VP who was applying for a slot in CSuite Accelerator, and she told me that in her last performance review, the boss dinged her for being “too decisive.”

Her numeric rating actually dipped from the prior year.

When she asked what “too decisive” meant, he said she jumps right into solutions and cuts people off without getting them on board.

This was really disorienting for her. Too decisive? That got her a pat on the back from all her prior bosses. They loved that she got stuff done.

Now, she said, it was like the people up top changed the rules without telling anybody. She was irritated, but worse, confused.

Bottom line, though, she understood that if she didn’t change things, she’d peaked with her organization.

So, let’s get underneath this.

The C-Suite Promotion Killer:

Here’s the C-Suite Promotion Killer: Getting stuck in the middle-management belief that the most important thing is to just get the task done. Just produce that result quickly and at all costs.

Here are four of the implicit assumptions behind that mistake – and also why it’s time to outgrow them:

1. Forcing your will to get stuff done means you’re more powerful

– False! When you force your will you’re leading through coercion. Executives aim for MORAL authority; not COERCIVE authority. You want people’s admiration … you don’t want them to see you as out for yourself.

  2. Collaboration waters down a decision – we’re always warned against too many cooks in the kitchen

– False! Without collaboration, while the SPEED of your decision might improve, the QUALITY of your decisions suffers. Input and multiple perspectives improve every decision.

  3.  Consensus isn’t worth the time it takes – I used to coach a guy who kept warning colleagues that they’d better support him because, “The train’s leaving the station.”

– False! Consensus is your friend. You can’t make change or other big things happen without buy-in. The train might be leaving the station, but what if no one’s on it with you. what happens when you reach your destination?

  4.  You can look strong while your team looks weak – that it’s more important that you make the right decision than it is you allow your less experienced DR to possibly mess up.

 – False! When you don’t encourage your direct reports to weigh in and make decisions, you stunt their growth. Your bench will be weak. And a weak bench renders you unpromotable.

Not to mention the fact that your Stars will bail on you and go work for your competitors.

Good news, bad news, Partner. That may have worked for you in more junior management roles, but that’s where it’s utility ended.

Three Things to Get Back on Track:

1.  Shift your mindset – choose a leadership posture of Statesperson over Insurgent. Here’s what I mean:

– A Statesperson steers the ship through rough waters to a better harbor; while
– An Insurgent storms the enemy stronghold to retake the hill.
– Get it?

2.  Pay attention

– Show respect for your coworkers by seriously considering their opinions
– Help your colleagues look good.

3.  Put down your hammer and try out some new tools

– Learn to listen; listen to learn
– Joint problem-solve for win-wins

If you do these things consistently, you will:

– Influence with Moral Authority and Cultivate followership

– Get even more stuff done

– Be C-Suite-ready

Taking Action:

So what I want to know is, in light of what we discussed here, what are you going to do to be less “decisive” while more influential? Leave me a comment.

I enjoyed making this for you; I hope it’s been useful. If you like it, share it with your colleagues or someone else you believe might benefit.

If you want to learn more, take our “C-Suite Roadblock Audit,” which will help you identify mistakes you might be making right now that could be hurting your CSuite prospects. Alternatively, if you’d like to have a complimentary 15-minute call with me feel free to reach out for a 15-minute Strategy Session.